Friday, January 31, 2014

Fabulous Friday Feature-Colleen Coble

Today I welcome a sweet person who has many novels published and is the CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers: 
author Colleen Coble

Enter to win Colleen's 
January, 2014 release,
Butterfly Palace

Scroll to the end of the post to see how to enter.

It seems we all must face huge trials in our life. Despite her experience, Colleen joyfully shared with me what God has done for her. I asked her to tell you how God has led her on her journey. Here is her story:

After Wandering So Long in the Wilderness

I can still remember the first story I ever wrote. It was in first grade and was about twin colts. My teacher praised my writing, and the seed was planted. Someday I would be a writer.

The seed lay dormant through the early years of marriage and raising a family. “Someday” I was going to write. I devoured books by the armloads from the library, and it bothered me to read the hopelessness in them that assumed there was no God. Through those years, I told God if he’d give me a story, I’d love to write from the viewpoint that he exists and cares about his children. But nothing came.

August 25, 1990 changed everything. The phone rang late that night with the news that the oldest of my three younger brothers had been killed by lightning in a freak farm accident. In the coming months, as I emerged from the storm of grief, I realized that if I was ever going to follow the dream I believed God had put in my heart, I needed to get started. I was approaching my fortieth birthday, and time was marching on.

Cambodia Elephant Ride
As part of the grieving process, my husband and I made a trip out to Wyoming to see where Randy had lived during a two-year stint. As I stood on the parade ground at Fort Laramie, the first idea took root and sprouted. The fire of grief and adversity had finally cracked open the seed that had lain dormant in my heart all those years.

It still wasn’t easy. Getting published is hard and takes work and commitment. Every time I was tempted to let the computer go dark, God whispered in my heart that I could do it. That he had given me everything I needed to go on. When a rejection came, I’d cry for a while. Then I’d pick myself back up, rework it and send it out again.

Seven years later I finally made the first sale. But God taught me about faith and perseverance through those seven years. In those days I knew no other writers. It was lonely and soul-crushing at times. I’m so thankful for American Christian Fiction Writers and other authors whose friendships I treasure now after wandering so long in that wilderness.  

Looking back, I’m glad it wasn’t easier. It makes me appreciate so much more the joy and privilege I have to share my novels with my readers and to hopefully make them a little thirsty for the One who holds out a cup of living water.
~ ~

Best-selling author Colleen Coble's novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, the ACFW Carol Award, the Romance Writers of America RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers' Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has over 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana.

Visit her website at
Connect at Facebook
~ ~

Butterfly Palace

Elegance and wealth. Privilege and politics. The extravagance of the Butterfly Palace overwhelmed Lily’s senses and nearly smothered her painful memories. She pushed away her misgivings . . . She was perfectly safe in this huge house.

Austin, Texas—1904: Abandoned by the love of her life and still mourning the loss of her mother, Lily Donaldson has turned her back on the pain and come to Austin for a fresh start, working for the Marshall family as a kitchen maid in their luxurious mansion, the Butterfly Palace. The tasks before her are legion, and her mistress less than pleasant, but at least Lily’s new life will be, if nothing else, distracting. 
But one night, while serving at a dinner party, Lily recognizes the man who abandoned her, Andy, her liaison from the livery stable, the blacksmith’s son . . .sitting among the distinguished guests. Though he recognizes her, Andy does not acknowledge her aloud, and Lily is left reeling, flabbergasted, and irate.

Smitten Book Club

When Heather and her fellow book club members begin passing the book around, their respective interpretations are unleashed on their respective love lives . . . for better or for worse. Is it a mystery? An idealist fantasy? An intimation of Jane Austen? As romantic love finds its way to each woman, the Guide proves itself both surprisingly prescient and hilariously irrelevant.
What’s more, a handwritten inscription indicates that the arcane book might hold the only extant clues leading to buried gold—exactly what one of the members needs to keep her house. How could they not go treasure hunting?

In this remarkable collaborative novel, besties Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Denise Hunter, and Diann Hunt tackle the tale of the Gentlewoman’s Guide by writing for one book club member apiece. Smitten Book Club is a hopeful, hilarious story of friendship and healing, written by friends for friends.

To enter the contest for an autographed copy of 
Colleen Coble's book: "Butterfly Palace":
leave a comment (and email addy)
AND become a follower of this site, 
if you aren't already.

Sorry  US  only

Winner announced on my facebook page.

Thank you, Colleen, for Joining us This Weekend!

Colleen said, "Looking back, I'm glad it wasn't easier." How about you? We've all walked those troubled roads. Have you been able to draw the same conclusion? 

Do you have a prayer request?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

How We Can Consider One Another?

One of the most recent lessons I've grasped in my writing career is the importance of knowing my audience. What I didn't realize was the importance of connecting this very topic to all walks of life. Even Jesus knew to mold His words to fit the abilities and other aspects of his listeners and thereby showed His consideration to those He spoke with. 

How can we better consider others?
Let's talk about it.

Photo Courtesy

Tailor our vocabulary:
We pretty much all know to use age appropriate vocabulary when speaking with individuals. There are other things to consider as well. 

For example: My hubby is a medical person. I have clearly communicated my disinterest in the grossies of his job. He also needs to define terms for me when talking about his day. 

Then again, when my techy teen speaks in acronyms, text speak, flips through computer screens while "teaching" me, etc. we have a communication issue. I want to learn, listen, follow along, I just need a translation.

Jesus used tailored stories for his audience and kept the vocabulary at the level of his listeners. He spoke to women, to children, to the Pharisees, to His disciples, and etc. Each time He tailored his words to best communicate with the listener.

We all have our own area of expertise. The vocab is so second nature to us we forget the listener's inability to understand.

Tailoring our vocabulary to the one we are having a conversation with with draw them in and open the door for a two way communication. 

Let us consider one another to love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:24

This post is brought to you by the one-word: Consideration.

*What topic of conversation have you found yourself lost in the vocabulary?
*What topic have you mastered and therefore need to modify when speaking with others? 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Benefits to A Comment in Any Situation

Photo courtesy
I'm guilty.

There are many blogs, FB posts, and Twitter posts that I read and haven't written a comment. I've seen someone at church, work, at the store, etc and didn't make the effort to say something to a person I knew or only was acquainted with. 

There isn't always a good reason other than I didn't take/make the time or I was unsure if my comment was good enough.

Recently I judged a writing contest. The contestants were asked to send a word of thanks to the judge when they received their score sheets. 

One person wrote a very kind response to me. I recalled her work as one with beginning writing characteristics. Remembering how nice judges were to me when I sat in that position, I chose to comment only on the basics, gave resources, and sprinkled compliments where I could. I did not inflate the grade to make the person feel better, though.

The comment I received warmed my heart. The individual said he was older and had always wanted to write this story. Because of the comments on the score sheet, he said he felt encouraged and wanted to pursue learning more to write the book better.


Only a week later, I observed a critique written from one person I knew to another. The critiquing individual suggested a major shift and gave their reasonings. The shift would drastically change the story and the writer's voice if the author followed through and did as asked. At the time, I felt I shouldn't say anything even though I felt strongly against the suggestion. 

The comment circled in my head for days. It seemed God wanted me to write the writer and say my reasons why the major shift should not be done. 

It nagged at me. Resurfacing as I did dishes. When I went to bed.

I finally gave in and wrote the writer privately and included a list of reasons why I felt the major shift should not be done.

To my great surprise the writer wrote me back and said she'd spent a great deal of time in prayer the last few days regarding the matter. She became confused, wondering if her style of writing would ever be published. To do the shift would change the work to not be what she felt led to do. The next day, my email arrived to her.

It had become the answer to the writer's prayer and ended up encouraged the writer.

Taking the time to leave comments, or simply give a comment to someone we meet at church, work, at home, anywhere, can often take effort on our part. We may feel unsure about their response or actual need.

BUT, the one thing I learned from the two situations above was: 

It's nice to receive comments.

It's nice to give comments.

As long as the comments are: 

*for the individual (and not for your benefit-platform)
*complimentary if appropriate
*Paulinian (say what is good before what needs to be improved)
*proof read (typos can change the meaning of the comment to something not intended)
*considering the level/situation the person is experiencing at that very moment

Below, I have a space for you to leave comments. Today, I will give my comment to you first. I really appreciate your visits here at Let's Talk. Your faithful readership up lifts my spirit everyday. I am encouraged to be faithful to you by including you in my prayers and always having the next post up on time, to listen to what interests you and addressing those topics.

A few weeks ago we discussed our one-words for this year. Someone chose the word encourage.  Let us go about and encourage others this week by expressing kind comments.

How can you encourage/try to make a comment to someone this week?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Fabulous Friday Feature-Julie Klassen

Today I welcome a sweet person who masterfully writes the stories she dreams: 
author Julie Klassen

Enter to win Julie's 
January, 2014 release,
The Dancing Master

Scroll to the end of the post to see how to enter.

Julie's new release has such an inviting title. Go ahead, take a peek at the book cover below. I asked Julie to share how God has led her on her journey. Here is her story:

Books & Dreams

For the last few years, I’ve had the following verse propped up near my laptop:        

“For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
--Ephesians 2:10

I have always loved books, and wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. In fact, my Mom, who was my biggest fan while she was alive, kept a second grade report card that said something along the lines of “Julie’s stories and poems show great potential.” So I really do believe God wired me to be a writer, or at least creative with words in some way, from the get-go. 

Julie Klassen with her
editor Karen Schurrer (and her husband, Jeff)
I spent many hours lost in make-believe as a girl, and in writing stories, poems, and skits for my cousins to perform on Thanksgiving. I took every writing class I could in high school and college. Though a wise counselor advised me to pursue a degree that would lead to a “real job,” so I graduated with a degree in advertising and worked in that field for several years. I also managed to procrastinate getting serious about writing during those years. Starting things, but never finishing them.

I landed nearer to my dream job when I landed an advertising job for a Christian publisher. I was like a kid in a candy store with all those books to read! And later, because I had volunteered to do any project that came along (reviewing manuscripts, abridging audio books), Bethany House offered me a job in editorial, which I could do primarily from home. What a blessing that was to me and my family, especially when my boys were young.

When I look back, I see how God graciously lead me to that position. I learned so much from working with other editors and talented authors – things that taught me not only about writing but about how to go about crafting a full-length novel, which is a lot more work than I ever imagined! I am thankful for my years with Bethany House Publishers. But, I am also thankful that I was able to hang up my editorial “red pen” a few years ago to focus on my writing.

Being a novelist has drawn me closer to God—made me realize how much I want and need His wisdom and leading in my life and in my writing. I don’t consider myself as having “arrived” in either my writing journey or my walk with Christ. I am still involved in Bible study and I still take writing classes—there is always more to learn! 

Even so, I love knowing I am doing what God wired me to do and for His glory.

What has God wired you to do? Maybe it’s writing books like me, or maybe it’s something completely different like creating a beautiful home, or being a singer, or a teacher, or helping the sick. But never doubt this: He has created you for a purpose.

Whatever your dream, I want to encourage you to begin taking small steps in that direction if you haven’t already. You will be amazed at what God can do in your life. I know I am.

~ ~

Julie Klassen in lovely Austen gown
JULIE KLASSEN loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in Christian publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. Three of her books have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. She also won the Midwest Book Award for Genre Fiction and been a finalist in Romance Writers of America’s RITA Awards and ACFW’s Carol Awards. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Please visit her websites at:

~ ~

The Dancing Master

Dancing master Alec Valcourt is forced to leave his London academy and move his mother and sister to remote Devonshire. He hopes to start again, but when he arrives, he is stunned to learn the village matriarch has prohibited all dancing for reasons buried deep in her past. Alec finds an unlikely ally in the matriarch’s daughter, and the two join forces to uncover old secrets, and restore life to the village.

To enter the contest for an autographed copy of 
Julie Klassen's book: "The Dancing Master":
leave a comment (and email addy)
AND become a follower of this site, 
if you aren't already.

Sorry  US  only

Winner announced on my facebook page.

Thank you, Julie, for Joining us This Weekend!

What has God wired you to do?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Memory Device For You

Photo Courtesy

Recently I added a memory game to my week's activities. 

It all started when I listened to one of those fabulous sermons in church and actually took notes. Later in the week, I recalled liking the sermon and searched for the notes, but lamented when I couldn't find the piece of paper.

I quizzed myself:

What was the general topic? I racked my brain…good grief this was Thursday and a thousand other things had happened when I asked the question. After a cup of tea, visualizing where I sat in the sanctuary, and using every other means possible to remember the general topic I finally answered the question. 

The process to recall the rest of the good things said was an epic fail. 

Although I have since started using a notebook I have created a memory game.

On Monday, at any point during the day, I try to say the following without the use of my notes:

General topic of the sermon
Main book of the Bible used 
Application point

Then I work on the finer points. No order is required.

The game is repeated each day for the rest of the week.
No grade given. 
Many benefits. 
Can be applied to anything, not just sermons.

Have some fun.

We tend to easily remember things we find important at the time (placement of keys excluded). Sometimes, though, our busy lifestyle prevents remembering the very things that will enhance our lives.

Do you have a memory game/device that helps you recall information?

Monday, January 20, 2014

When Our Work Goes Unnoticed

Photo Courtesy

I think each of us can share moments when our work has gone unnoticed. It seems to happen most often when we try our hardest.

Paul McCusker's post from yesterday was especially powerful to me, and perhaps powerful to you as well. If you haven't had a chance to read it, scroll down and take a gander. He shared the life of one seemingly insignificant person, Hurum-Abi.

The Bible doesn't say that Hurum-Abi received any awards, special gifts from those he helped, or even a pat on the back. It seems he packed his bags after his last day of work and went home.

This is the task we have here during our life time. The Bible says this life is short, a mere breath. What we do with it is very significant for the future--for those who will be going to heaven.

This is still January. Still the first month of 2014. 

God will bless us with Hurum-Abi moments. Opportunities to do something big and something small, both important to His plan.

Completing the task we are given with a joyful heart and remembering to give difficult situations to God will brighten our day and give us the strength to continue the job we are called to do.

Some day we will have our bags packed by God then He'll call us home. Our real home. The home we were designed to enjoy.

Once in heaven, we will be able to reflect on our time here on earth at the judgement seat. THAT is the moment when God will give us a crown, our rewards for work well done. His hug and smile, words of comfort and encouragement will stir an unbelievable joy.

What components do you think Hurum-Abi had to keep his thoughts on the straight and narrow? 

Here are a few ideas I thought of:

1.  He looked at his work and saw that it was good.
2.  He had a self satisfaction in a good day's work.
3.  He was content with the situation.
4.  He explored ways to improve his product and present that to the king.
5.  He did his work then he went home.

A group of people were once asked what God thought of them. Many said, "He is disappointed in me. He doesn't like the work I do. I am a failure."

Yet the Bible says all the contrary. God's Word tells us He loves us. He joys over us with singing. He protects us, cares for us, provides for us, wants to be with us, will go looking for us when we hide from him--so that we may be comforted and so much more.

You are a treasure loved by God. 

When He calls you to do a task, like Hurum-Abi, rest assured:

1. You will have all that you need for the job, 
2. You will not be asked to do more than you can handle, 
3. You will be given the talents required to do the job
4. You were chosen for the job because you are the right one to do the job.

My word for this year is devoted. I am devoted to walking with you, crying with you, laughing with you, praying for you, assisting you in any way I can. How can I pray for you? How can I rejoice with you?

May the peace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be with you today, and every day for the rest of this year.

Mary Vee

Friday, January 17, 2014

Fabulous Friday Feature-Paul McCusker

Today I welcome 
author Paul McCusker

Enter to win Paul's 2013 release,

Scroll to the end of the post to see how to enter.

Our family has joyously spent many, many hours listening to the popular Adventures in Odyssey series written and directed by Paul McCusker and presented by Focus on the Family. We've heard the show on the radio, bought the cassettes, then CD's and videos. Of course Whit is our favorite character. I contacted Paul McCusker and asked if he would be willing to join us here on Let's Talk and was so excited when he said yes. I asked him to tell us how God led him on his writing journey. Here shared this wonderful story:

Only One Mention-Yet His Legacy Lives On

There are times when I wish I could pinpoint when or where I took an interest in writing. But, unlike some, there was no specific moment, an epiphany, or a slap on the forehead when I thought, “I know what I want to do…” I never had a jumping-off point, but experienced a writing life that has flowed like a river – starting from an unseen spring of water and growing, carrying me along.

I'd like to tell you about a man named Hurum-Abi…

Paul McCusker wrote this and
other dramatizations
In the book of Second Chronicles, Solomon had become King and decided to build the long-awaited Temple of God. 

But he needs help, so he writes to the King of Tyre – a man named Hiram – and asks for supplies and help, including (2:7) “a man skilled to work in gold, silver, bronze and iron, and in purple and crimson and blue fabrics, trained also in engraving.” No small request! 

King Hiram replies that he has just the man: Hurum-Abi.  Verse 13: “I have sent a skilled man, who has understanding, Hurum-Abi… who is trained to work in gold, silver, bronze, iron, stone and wood, and in purple, blue and crimson fabrics and fine linen, and to do all sorts of engraving and execute any design that may be assigned to him…” So Hurum-Abi goes to work for Solomon to get the Temple built, as you can read through the next couple of chapters. 

Hurum-Abi gets the one mention, but you read little else about him. But behind that reference is a man’s life.  Perhaps he had a family. He had friends. And he left them to perform a task – to bring to bear his talents to help create a House for God. 

Paul McCusker and Doug Gresham
I once read about these teachers and professors in England – at Oxford and Cambridge – who were very suddenly and mysteriously removed from their positions. The war against Germany had begun and these men and women were yanked from their studies in history and linguistics to be put to use somewhere else. Some wound up performing tasks of espionage. Some were put to work at Bletchley Park – the place where the German codes were poured over and broken. They used their skills, developed elsewhere for other purposes, to fight an enemy and help win a war.  After that war ended, few people knew who they were or what vital service they’d performed. They were anonymous. Their lives went on.

Presumably, Hurum-Abi’s life went on, too. He did his work and went home. 

And so we get to the beginning of chapter 5. “Thus all the work that Solomon did for the house of the Lord was finished.” Not another word about good old Hurum-Abi.

Yet his legacy – small as it was – stands in Scripture.   

He had wisdom.
He was skilled.
He was an artist.
He was called.
He was dedicated.
He was the man of the moment, who played his role in the time he had.
But, when it came down to the end, he was anonymous.

I think about that a lot. When all is said and done, I’m a writer. It’s all I have ever been. It wouldn’t occur to me to try to be anything else.

Funny enough, I think I’ve been called to do it. I have skills that I have brought to what I do. I pray to be the man of the moment, who plays my role in this time with dedication and perseverance. And if, in the end, I go home and the chronicle never mentions me, but it acknowledges the work I did and how God used it, then I’m fine with that. I know – and God knows – that I did the best that I could with the time that I had. 

I was good old Hurum-Abi. 

What a wonderful testimony that would be… for all of us.

~ ~

PAUL McCUSKER is the Peabody Award-winning writer and director of the audio drama "Bonhoeffer: The Cost of Freedom," along with the multiple award-winning audio dramatizations of "The Chronicles of Narnia," "The Screwtape Letters," "A Christmas Carol," his original series "The Luke Reports: The Life of Jesus" (honored as Best Audio Drama by the prestigious Audie Awards) and "The Father Gilbert Mysteries" (also an Audie Award nominee), all for Focus On The Family Radio Theatre.
Apart from dramatizations of C.S. Lewis' "Narnia" and "Screwtape," he also scripted the original audio drama "C.S. Lewis At War" and written the companion book "C.S. Lewis & Mere Christianity: The Crisis That Created A Classic." His work has extended to writing the detailed footnotes for "The Annotated Screwtape Letters" for HarperOne. (It is the first authorized annotated edition of any book by C.S. Lewis.)
McCusker is also a writer and director for the long-running children's audio program "Adventures in Odyssey," scripting over 250 episodes as well as 2 of the animated video series, authoring 18 spin-off novels, and serving as the general editor for "The Imagination Station" chapter books. For adults, he has written the Gold Medallion-nominated "Epiphany," "The Mill House" and, with Dr. Walt Larimore, "The Gabon Virus" and "The Influenza Bomb." His plays and musicals have been performed in churches and community theaters across the country. One, "A Time for Christmas," was a Dove Award nominee. His lyrics have been put to music by the Grammy Award-winning Michael W. Smith.

Please visit his websites at:
Twitter: @Pemccusker
Facebook: Paul McCusker

~ ~
Books 1-3 in the Passages series in one volume.
  • Arin's Judgment: One minute, Wade Mullins is at home, attempting to destroy top-secret drawings for the atomic bomb. The next minute, he's in an alternate world staring at a strange prophet who says Wade is the final sign, an end-time omen of a culture on the verge of annihilation.
  • Darien's Rise: Anna wanted superpowers, but now she's not so sure after being transported to a new planet. She sees visions of the future and her brother Kyle is a bodyguard who can't fail. But both of their powers are only used to help Darien, the rightful heir to the throne of Marus. Darien is being held by a man so evil, not even Anna and Kyle can save him.
  • Annison's Risk: Maddy finds herself in a strange new land called Marus where a conquering king is about to marry a princess. The king's most trusted advisor is hatching an evil plot to stamp out followers of the "old faith," and Maddy discovers that plan includes the new princess. Should Maddy reveal the truth and usher in political chaos? Or will the princess have to give up her life to bring peace?

To enter the contest for an autographed copy of 
Paul McCusker's book: "Passages":
leave a comment (and email addy)
AND become a follower of this site, if you aren't already.

Sorry  US  only

Winner announced on my facebook page.

Thank you, Paul, for Joining us This Weekend!

Have you listened to any of the dramatizations mentioned above? If so which ones? I have, including Bonhoeffer and Chronicles of Narnia and of course tons of Adventures in Odyssey stories. These truly make great gifts for many occassions.

Do you sometimes feel like Hurum-Abi, the chosen but mentioned only once? I have, and hadn't noticed the story detail in Scripture. We've read how Hurum-Abi's story helped Paul McCusker, how might his story help others/you?